Ecommerce and Retail

How Can Retailers Capitalise on the International Ecommerce Opportunity this Christmas?

With the global market for cross-border ecommerce now valued at £153bn ($230bn) in 2014, and predicted to surge to £666bn ($1 trillion) by 2020, the business opportunity for UK retailers has never been greater. International consumers are increasingly favouring shopping from the comfort of their own homes and this is even more appealing during the holiday period, as it avoids the big crowds and stress that Christmas shopping entails.

Research from Adobe’s Digital Index suggests this year’s festive season now represents 20% of worldwide online spending. With Christmas offering a massive slice of revenue for retailers, ambitious brands need to make sure they have the right processes in place to capitalise on the online opportunity – not just at home, but overseas.

International ecommerce promises a great deal of revenue potential for retailers as it offers brands an unprecedented ability to quickly grow businesses internationally, enabling them to offer their goods to customers in foreign markets, without the need for a physical presence. Commitment to delivering a seamless shopping experience will be the driving force global online sales this Christmas.

The problem is, many retailers often struggle to match impressive homeland sales in international markets. This is due to various cross-border barriers to ecommerce such as high shipping rates, unknown import duties, inefficient returns, and difficulties supporting local currencies and payment methods. These issues take on new weight in the competitive Christmas climate where poor customer service will send shoppers elsewhere.

The key rule of international trade is that, in order to be successful, customers must enjoy a great shopping experience regardless of their location. Retailers should never treat cross-border customers as second class. To keep international customers engaged, retailers need to make sure their regional offerings are simple, localised and transparent.

The following four considerations are a necessity:

  • Have multiple shipping options at reasonable rates. Linked to this, providing a simple and risk-free returns process is crucial for every customer as it installs them with confidence to buy online with you.
  • Offer the local currency; there are few things more off-putting to online shoppers than the need to calculate the cost in their own currency while browsing, not to mention exchange rate uncertainty.
  • Always aim to put the customer’s mind at ease. Avoid any potential nasty surprises for customers (e.g. customs charges and handling fees from the carriers) by being upfront about these costs.
  • In most cases, avoid translating your website content or building local sites. These tasks require high investment and usually generate low return, therefore, hold off on any action until you have really proven yourself within the market.

Brands cannot afford to ignore the cross-border ecommerce opportunity this Christmas. Achieving this doesn’t necessarily require massive time and resource investment in-house either; retailers can find a global partner to better service their needs and meet international sales expectations, making the ROI of going global positive

Technology partners like Global-e can support retailers in providing a seamless international ecommerce experience and offer customers the level of service that is essential in the competitive retail market. Without the assurance of a localised experience, accurate timings for delivery or accuracy surrounding total cost of sale, retailers will become unstuck and see their consumers abandon purchases or move to a competitor’s site in a matter of clicks – not a risk you want to take with your customers this Christmas!

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